Tuesday, December 06, 2016

LG & bt

Do you ever get the feeling that we have to fight our battles everywhere, including within the LGBT community?

One time up in Provincetown for Fantasia Fair I came up a couple of days early and Women’s Week was winding down and there were a number of lesbians staying at the B&B. At five o’clock each the B&B put of a wine and cheese spread for the guests, we (the trans guests) were sitting on one side of the food and a number of lesbians were sitting on the other side and each group was talking among themselves.

I forget who broke the ice first but there was a comment that lesbians and trans people have nothing in common and I started talking about my coming out story. Several bottles of wine later we all were telling our coming out stories, that day we made a number of friends.

Here is an article about the lesbian and trans communities from the SAGE blog...
Transition Anxiety
This post originally appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of SAGEMatters, and was later published by The Huffington Post, here.

As we come to the end Transgender Awareness Month, SAGE CEO Michael Adams shares an illuminating conversation he had early this fall with lesbian and transgender rights leaders about identity, inclusion and a movement in transition.

Michael Adams: Kate, in recent months, as more trans older people are getting involved in SAGE, we’ve had pushback from a small number of constituents who believe that transwomen should not take part in programs SAGE provides specifically for women and lesbians. In essence, they argue that transwomen haven’t had the same gender experiences as cisgender women, given their different life histories and relationships with patriarchy, and that including transwomen in this programming denies cisgender women the ability to share their experiences with others like them. As a long-time feminist and the head of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), what is your take on these arguments?

Kate Kendell: A dialogue about where there is allyship and commonality versus where there is difference is the place we should come from. All women, transgender or cisgender, approach any conversation in any space based on their own experiences. Rich women, whether cisgender or transgender, do not have the same experience around gender or patriarchy as poor women. Women of color do not have the same experience around misogyny, patriarchy and sexism as white women. It’s important that we do not have an oppression test, or some sort of code that you must conform to in order to be in a conversation as a woman. Approaching the conversation where women are open to accepting different perspectives is the way to overcome a sense of difference or alienation from each other. For example, some women of privilege may have blind spots, where they don’t understand the nuances of patriarchy. These blind spots exist for both cisgender and transgender women. In order for the space to feel open for all, there should be a cultural competency conversation about understanding how people come from different places.

Adams: Carmen, do these arguments surprise you? As a longtime activist and community intellectual, what’s your perspective?

Carmen Vazquez: It doesn’t surprise me at all. As a person who does not identify as transgender but is a gender-nonconforming person, I have been the target of individuals who have used my female masculinity as a counter to my feminism. I understand the places where some of these women come from. But I agree with Kate that a conversation about alliance and where we have commonality in terms of sexism in this society is much more useful than a conversation about differences. It’s really important that there be a way of understanding the place where these women live. I don’t know who they are or what level of privilege they come from, but there’s a conversation about gender that is very different from the conversation about the patriarchy 40 years ago. There is a desire to hang on to a perspective that isn’t looking at the reality of what our LGBT conversation and community is about in terms of gender.

We have to remember a time when “lesbian” wasn’t even a part of the lexicon. And we should remind our sisters of what it took to get to that place—the struggle with society to whom we were completely invisible. I certainly understand the necessity of bringing some intersectional analysis— also because I am a woman of color. We need to pay attention to what these women fear they will lose if they are in a place with transgender women.
I think one of the most important things to remember is to respect the space you are in.

That doesn’t mean to ignore negative things said but we have to have a discussion rather than a shouting match.

We are all going through a transition in culture and there are very many rough spots that we will be going through. Many older lesbians and older trans people are having a hard time adjusting to the new generation gender neutral pronouns, the youth are leading the way and they have something important to say and we should listen.

We need to take the high road and be civil to one another.

This morning I am at the Connecticut Society for Healthcare Risk Management conference and I'm attending the "Caring for Transgender Patients: Unique Risks" workshop. It should be interesting to hear what the presenter has to say about us.

No comments: